Is Illinois really in a financial mess? New state website makes the case

‘The Ledger’ is to give taxpayers a real-time snapshot of the state’s finances.

April 2, 2012

(AP Photo)
Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka

Illinois taxpayers who want a first-hand look at how the state spends money can now get their fix, or so says Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka. On Monday she launched The Ledger, a comprehensive online financial database that she says sets a new standard for transparency.

“Beyond providing the day’s balances and transactions, the site allows taxpayers to inspect state revenues, expenses, contracts and salaries, all without having to move from their home computer,” Topinka said.

Some of the information taxpayers can access include:

  • Daily general funds balances and bond rating information;
  • Unpaid bill totals on file at the state comptroller’s office;
  • A state contract database providing agreement descriptions, with an option to obtain the document itself;
  • A salary database detailing payments to all state employees;
  • Revenue and expense database containing all transactions;
  • All state financial reports;
  • Automatically-generated Freedom of Information Act requests for additional information.

Topinka hopes the new set of online tools will provide more than just financial data.

“The object of the exercise is to make everything that we know of in the comptroller’s office public. If we know it, you’ll know it,” Topinka said. “We think it’s the only way we’re going to get the state back on a footing here on integrity and undercut some of this corruption that’s gone on and horseplay. So when you see it, it’ll be for real.”